Students get hands-on physics lesson at Union City's iFly

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Sixth-graders from a school near Sacramento journeyed to iFly in Union City for an unconventional, hands-on science lesson.

Talking about Newton's Second Law of Motion may not be too appealing to a bunch of sixth-graders. But if you do it in an unconventional science lesson, well that's a game changer. On Tuesday, school was held at iFly in Union City.

Students from Parker Whitney Elementary north of Sacramento drove 122 miles to Union City just to learn about physics.

The iFly indoor skydiving tunnel has four massive fans on top of the roof. The fans push air down through the hollow walls on the side of the building and then up through a narrow wind tunnel. It creates a wind speed of 130 miles an hour, or sometimes greater.

"So what you would experience jumping out of a plane, without the plane," explained flight instructor Victor Garcia.

Each student geared up to experience what skydiving would feel like.

This unconventional science lesson is actually teaching them Isaac Newton's Second Law of Motion. There are two forces acting upon this student -- gravity always trying to push him down and the wind pushing back against gravity.

"And with a good body position, that force is a stable and well-distributed one and it completely cancels out the force of gravity and so you neither fall nor rise," said STEM educator John Boyce.

Well, you knew I was going to do it. Inside, wind speeds are 130 miles per hour. I believe I can fly! Though, as I discovered, flying was not for me. I was sure glad to have Garcia guiding me.

"You're the pilot," he said. "You're the pilot of your own body."

By increasing the speed of the wind and changing the body's position, Garcia and the students were able to have a little more fun.

"We learned more about gravity and pressure and air resistance," said sixth-grader Chloe Lapuma.

Fellow sixth-grader Charles Brewer added, "I thought it was really fun because you got to feel all the pressure of the air against you and then you just went up and then you came down."

While it was fun, it was also an unforgettable lesson in physics. And that's what science teachers are hoping to see more of both inside and outside of the classroom.
Related Topics:
educationsciencestudentswinddistractionUnion CitySacramento
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